The Story of The Jabidah Massacre

The Story of The Jabidah Massacre

The story of the Jabidah Massacre. In the 60s, precisely 1968, the Philippines were exercising their claims to the Malaysian territory of Sabah which was a vast land that formed a part of the newly created Malaysia and was interpreted by the Philippine Government as rightfully theirs.

They had drawn up plans to destabilize the region to warrant a Filipino military intervention. This plan however is shrouded in mystery and controversy and the full extent was never revealed to the public. What we do know however is that the government recruited more than 150 Muslim men from the Southern Philippines for unconventional warfare.

They were to be called Jabidah. They arrived on Corregidor Island to begin their training in guerilla warfare and jungle combat. Months of extreme training had created angst amongst the new recruits and in addition to that, the conditions were atrocious, food was terrible. To top it all off, they weren’t getting their promised monthly salary of 50 Philippine Pesos (roughly $80 in 2021) and naturally the soldiers protested which didn’t sit well with their superiors. They sent a letter to Philippine President Marcos asking for better conditions and a higher wage. The soldiers were sent to different camps and/or sent home and it is also believed that they had mutinied allegedly upon learning the purpose of their intense training. This is when the bloodbath started.

Oplan Merdeka / Jabidah Massacre
Jabidah Massacre

At 2am, a group of 12 men were told they were going home. This was the last time anyone ever heard of them. At 4am, another dozen men where told to hop on trucks for the journey home. Apparently, the aircraft could only carry 12 men at a time. Arriving at the airstrip, they were told to disembark and line up. That’s when Jibin Arula heard the shots as his comrades started falling. Arula was a trainee who was part of this second batch. As he heard the shots, he ran for his life, getting shot in his left thigh in the process. By the early morning, the local fishermen had picked him up.

His accounts serve as proof that this event occurred. Afterwards, a senate inquiry proved inconclusive with the government arguing that it was all just an opposition smear campaign. But the Muslims in the south, long ignored by the national government did not forget. These events directly led to the formation of Muslim separatist groups like the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) and the, wait-for-it, MILF (Mothers I li… whoops, Moro Islamic Liberation Front). These groups set the precedence of a Muslim insurgency in the southern Filipino region of Mindanao.

It is also worth noting that, after this incident, the author Cesar Adib Majul noted that, the administration of the then President, Ferdinand Marcos had suppressed the coverage of the incident in the interest of national unity which is the main reason why there is almost no documentation about the incident. Due to this, there is a vast array of theories available today which show different reasons for the Massacre, different numbers of deaths, etc.

Did you know about the story of Jabidah Massacre before? Do you believe that there are more secrets to this incident? We hope to keep bringing stories like this to light so more people know about them.

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